4 August 2013
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The things that make for peace are the instruments of torture and execution: nails and thorns, a scourge and spear, two cruel log hoisted up from the earth. They meant it for evil. He meant for good. They did it in hatred. He suffered it in love. They did it so that they could sin without judgment or punishment. He did it to forgive their sins and create in them a new heart and life for God.
John Lennon wants us to imagine a peaceful utopia where there is nothing to kill or die for. But there is no life free of conflict. If Darwin was wrong to see this world’s chief characteristic as tooth and claw, he wasn’t off by much. There is nothing living that doesn’t consume other things. Even plants are harvesting nitrogen from decomposing bodies. For some things to live other things must die.
Lennon’s song is more fantastical and childish than a man jumping over the moon. We might as well imagine a world where there are no people, no music, no drama, and nothing interesting.
God makes peace for men through conflict with men. nails and thorns, a scourge and spear, two cruel logs hoisting the Word of God up from the earth, to satisfy the demands of Justice and draw all men to Christ. Father forgive them for they know not what they do. There is the peace that passes all understanding.
That peace passes our understanding because it isn’t peaceful in the way of men. This isn’t what John Lennon wants. In creating peace with the Father and giving us His Holy Spirit, the Son has set us at war not just with the devil and the world, but also with ourselves.
We are men of two minds. We are conflicted. And we are tempted. Part of us wants to join the other side and covets all their fun. It doesn’t feel like peace, but peace is promised if we would just give in.
So we have given in. We’re not strangers to sin. But that never gives peace. It never delivers. It brings shame and regret, pain and sorrow. No adulterer or drug dealer or pornographer is happy with his life. They are all trapped. They are not at peace.
The peace that passes all understanding is peace with God. God has ended our rebellious bid for the throne by giving us the throne. One day our war will end. We will no longer betray ourselves. We will be true. To that, also, Jesus longs to gather us.
We meant things for evil. We did them in hatred. We wanted to sin with immunity. No, we didn’t crucify the Lord. We didn’t clothe Him in purple and blindfold Him and slap Him. We didn’t yell “crucify” or gamble for His clothes. But we were the cause of His suffering for we were the prize He sought, the chicks He longed to gather under His wings. We were dead in our trespasses, destined for Hell, when He washed into His own Name and claimed us as His own. He meant it for good. He did it in love. He did it to forgive sins and bestow peace.
Now is the hour of visitation. No man knows what the future holds. Amend your ways and your doings. God has good things for you. Don’t trust the lying words of your heart. Remember Jerusalem, think on Dresden and New Orleans, O Sinner, and repent. Your sins are many and frequent. You have caved in and given up. Call upon God. He will hear your voice. Ask for forgiveness. Cast your burden upon Him. He will sustain you. Confess. The temple of your heart has become a den of thieves. Swing open the doors of your lips and Christ will enter in, whip in hand, to drive out everything with which you have defiled yourself. His Body and His Blood will purge your soul and cleanse your heart.
Darwinist biologists try to explain away a mother hen’s concern for her chicks as concern for the species. That, of course, is pure sophistry. Hens aren’t concerned for the species they are concerned for their chicks. That concern is not perfect love. Creation has been corrupted by the Fall. Some mothers eat their young. But the concern of mothers for their children is a reflection of the Creator. So also, Our Lord’s concern for Jerusalem is not concern for the species. It is love, specific individual love.
He is long-suffering, patient, gracious, and merciful. He loves you. He will redeem your soul in peace. He will save you and your children, gathering you about Himself and covering you with the wings of His Holy Spirit. For this great, suffering God has always loved you, waited for you, desiring even now to draw you close as a hen gathers her chicks.